Gerard Butler is not good at anything, and it’s time we stopped trying to make him be. He uses an American accent in almost every movie, yet is no better at it than he was 20 years ago. He is not convincing as a romantic lead, a villain, a hero, or any other type of character who has emotions or a soul. The one movie he has starred in that wouldn’t have been better with someone else is 300 — 13 years and many abs ago.
The latest thing that Gerard Butler is not good at is playing Secret Service agent Mike Banning — first in Olympus Has Fallen, in which the White House was seized; then again in London Has Fallen, in which London was attacked while the U.S. president was visiting; and now in Angel Has Fallen, in which an attempt is made on the president’s life and Banning is framed for it. Ric Roman Waugh is the third director the trilogy has used, but he adheres to the franchise’s philosophy of killing as many people as possible. The …Has Fallen movies believe there’s no reason to kill only two henchmen if you can kill nine.
The body count in this run-of-the-miller action turd starts to grow with the massacre that sets the plot in motion. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, surely in violation of term limits) is fishing on a lake when a swarm of drones attacks, killing the entire Secret Service detail except for Banning and putting the president in a coma. Banning was deliberately spared by the unseen perpetrator, quickly revealed to be Wade Jennings (Danny Huston), an old Army buddy of Banning’s who’s now a defense contractor and eager to get into a war with Russia so he can get rich.
With evidence planted by Jennings to implicate Banning in the attack, Banning becomes a fugitive while working to clear his name, with Jada Pinkett Smith barely registering as the U.S. marshal in pursuit. He enlists the help of his father, Clay Banning (Nick Nolte), a crazy old Vietnam veteran who lives off the grid and cannot wait to kill as many government agents as come looking for him (which, as we have established, will be as many as the filmmakers could afford to hire).
This is hardly the first movie to show indifference to human life, of course. It’s not even particularly distasteful about it. It’s just that the movie has so little else going for it. Butler is an incoherent lump, the action is shaky-cammed to death, the musical score is constant and intrusive, the plot is stiffly formulaic. There’s no reason for any of this.